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Look, there’s a snow flake. Call off school.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Roanoke County needs to call off school 10 times this term in order to continue starting school before Labor Day. Even with Friday’s closure, coming amid a burst of fleeting flurries, it’s doubtful the weather will continue to cooperate. It likely will prove just as fickle as members of the Senate Education and Health Committee.
Once again, the majority on the committee refused to allow local school boards to decide when best to start school, deferring instead to the wisdom of operators of the state’s amusement parks and tourist attractions. Senators who cling to the Kings Dominion Law, refusing to lessen their grip on micromanaging local calendars, are also among those who continue to place additional mandates on schools and their students.
Roanoke City Public Schools offers a study on why local control is needed. Just a few years ago, the city won the right to piggyback on the county’s exception to the Kings Dominion Law in order to get struggling children back in the classroom sooner. The extra couple weeks made a huge difference by the time standardized test dates arrived.
Now, though, the brightest children, too, may be penalized. The General Assembly has required that all community colleges forge agreements with high schools so that students can attend classes. Since the colleges start before Labor Day, high school students may be absent.
Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, who continues to vote against local control of school calendars, says he has a budget amendment that would allow those already with exceptions to continue using them. But it’s only good for one year, and it’s questionable whether Roanoke’s piggyback clause could continue.
Besides, this is simply playing games with students’ education. The Senate has yet one more opportunity this term to make the right call. When the House bill comes before it, committee members should correct their error.
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